4.0 low-tech building systems. BIM-based product-process innovation for corrugated cardboard prefabrication


  • Rosa Romano University of Florence (Italy)
  • Elisa Belardi University of Florence (Italy)
  • Paola Gallo University of Florence (Italy)
  • Dario Luigi Distefano Archicart®




industry 4.0, prefabrication, mass customization, cardboard architecture, emergency architecture


Construction production chains are facing a profound ecological and digital transformation to support the competitiveness and resilience of the sector against ongoing environmental and socio-economic challenges. In recent years, the development of digital technologies has opened the field to the possibility of transforming prefabricated building production facilities into highly integrated, controlled, environmentally and economically efficient Industry 4.0 systems. CARES research is part of the ongoing debate, developing and implementing an innovative production model of construction elements made of corrugated cardboard, based on the principle of product-process digitalization through the use of BIM tools, aimed at rationalizing the use of resources and reducing the environmental burden of the construction phase.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Metrics Graph

Author Biographies

Rosa Romano, University of Florence (Italy)

Architect and PhD, she is an Associate Professor at the DiDA Department. Member of the Scientific Committee of the ABITA Centre and independent Expert for the European Community, her research focuses on the themes of bioecological architecture and innovative technologies for the environment, with particular attention to the management of complex building processes and the design of innovative envelope components.
Email: rosa.romano@unifi.it

Elisa Belardi, University of Florence (Italy)

Architect and PhD in Architectural Technologies at the Department of Architecture, she carries out research on the themes of digital transformation of the building process, with particular reference to prefabricated production systems and innovations in industrial 4.0 systems applied to construction.
E-mail: elisa.belardi@unifi.it

Paola Gallo, University of Florence (Italy)

Associate Professor of Architecture Technology at the DiDA Department, Scientific Secretary of the ABITA Centre and Director of the II Level Master in Bioecological Architecture and Technological Innovation for the Environment, she carries out research activity in the thematic field of technical and technological innovation in the architectural project.
Email: paola.gallo@unifi.it

Dario Luigi Distefano, Archicart®

Engineer and PhD in Evaluation and Mitigation of Urban and Land Risks, he is the Founder of the innovative SME Archicart® with which he patented the PACOTEC® corrugated cardboard honeycomb panel technology and for which he directs the technical and R&D department. He collaborates with several Italian universities as an expert in low-tech building systems.
E-mail: dariodistefano@archicart.com


Abanda, F. H., Tah, J. H. M. and Cheung, F. K. T. (2017), “BIM in off-site manufacturing for buildings”, in Journal of Building Engineering, vol. 14, pp. 89-102. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1016/j.jobe.2017.10.002 [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Agarwal, B. R., Chandrasekaran, S. and Sridhar, M. (2016), Imagining Construction’s Digital Future, Capital Projects and Infrastructure June 2016, McKinsey Productivity Sciences Center, Singapore. [Online] Available at: mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-infrastructure/our-insights/imagining-constructions-digital-future# [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Ban, S. and Keio University SFC Ban Laboratory (2010), Voluntary Architects Network – Making Architecture, Nurturing People – From Rwanda to Haiti, Inax Publishing.

Clyde & Co (2018), Embracing the Revolution – Legal and Industry Perspectives as Off-site Manufacturing Gains Traction, Innovation in Construction Report. [Online] Available at: clydeco.com/clyde/media/fileslibrary/Reports/PC_Off-site_Manufacturing_Report.pdf [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Distefano, D. L. (2019), Precast Lightness – Cardboard Architecture Responds to Emergency – Design, Prototyping and Testing of a High Performance Emergency House-kit, PhD Dissertation, DICAR, University of Catania. [Online] Available at: dspace.unict.it/handle/10761/4195 [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Du, Q., Bao, T., Li, Y., Huang, Y. and Shao, L. (2019), “Impact of prefabrication technology on the cradle-to-site CO2 emissions of residential buildings”, in Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, vol. 21, issue 7, pp. 1499-1514. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1007/s10098-019-01723-y [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2013), Towards the Circular Economy – Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition, vol. 1. [Online] Available at: emf.thirdlight.com/link/x8ay372a3r11-k6775n/@/preview/1?o [Accessed 18 September 2022].

European Commission (2019), Horizon Europe – The Next EU Research & Innovation Investment Programme (2021-2027). [Online] Available at: ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/research_and_innovation/strategy_on_ research_and_innovation/presentations/horizon_europe_en_investing_ to_shape_our_future.pdf [Accessed 08 October 2022].

European Parliament (2020), Next Generation EU – A European instrument to counter the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. [Online] Available at: europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2020/652000/EPRS_BRI(2020)652000_ EN.pdf [Accessed 08 October 2022].

Galluccio, G. (2019), Processi digitali avanzati per l’industria delle costruzioni 4.0 – BIM, digital manufacturing e prefabbricazione nell’edilizia in Cold-Formed Steel, Aracne, Canterano.

Giglio, F. (2018), “Low Tech e materiali non convenzionali – Misura, Tempo, Luogo | Low Tech and unconventional materials. Measure, Time, Place”, in Techne | Journal of Technology for Architecture and Environment, vol. 16, pp. 122-130. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.13128/Techne-22987 [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, International Energy Agency and the United Nations Environment Programme (2019), 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction – Towards a zero-emissions, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector. [Online] Available at: iea.org/reports/global-status-report-for-buildings-and-construction-2019 [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Guo, S., Zheng, S., Hu, Y., Hong, J., Wu, X. and Tang, M. (2019), “Embodied energy use in the global construction industry”, in Applied Energy, vol. 256, 113838, pp. 1-12. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113838 [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Gusmerotti, N. M., Frey, M. and Iraldo, F. (2020), Management dell’economia circolare – Principi, drivers, modelli di business e misurazione, FrancoAngeli, Milano.

Jodidio, P. (2015), Shigeru Ban – Complete Works 1985-2015, Taschen, Slovakia.

Latka, J. F. (2017), Paper in architecture – Research by design, engineering and prototyping, Architecture and the Built environment, n. 19. [Online] Available at: journals.open.tudelft.nl/abe/article/view/1875/2292 [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Lekan, A., Clinton, A., Fayomi, O. S. I. and James, O. (2020), “Lean thinking and industrial 4.0 approach to achieving construction 4.0 for industrialization and technological development”, in Buildings, vol. 10, issue 12, article 221, pp. 1-27. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.3390/buildings10120221 [Accessed 18 September 2022].

Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico (2021), Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza. [Online] Available at: governo.it/sites/governo.it/files/PNRR.pdf [Accessed 08 October 2022].

Oesterreich, T. D. and Teuteberg, F. (2016), “Understanding the Implications of Digitisation and Automation in the Context of Industry 4.0 – A Triangulation Approach and Elements of a Research Agenda for the Construction Industry”, in Computers in Industry, vol. 83, pp. 121-139. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1016/j.compind.2016.09.006 [Accessed 08 October 2022].

Wang, M., Wang, C. C., Sepasgozar, S. and Zlatanova, S. (2020), “A Systematic Review of Digital Technology Adoption in Off-Site Construction – Current Status and Future Direction towards Industry 4.0”, in Buildings, vol. 10, issue 11, article 204, pp. 1-29. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.3390/buildings10110204 [Accessed 08 October 2022].

Customization of digitized panel models starting from a single information matrix (credit: E. Belardi, Archicart®, 2021). AGATHÓN 12 | 2022




How to Cite

Romano, R., Belardi, E., Gallo, P. and Distefano, D. L. (2022) “4.0 low-tech building systems. BIM-based product-process innovation for corrugated cardboard prefabrication”, AGATHÓN | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, 12(online), pp. 158–167. doi: 10.19229/2464-9309/12142022.